The platinum-group elements (PGE), also known as the platinum-group metals (PGM), comprise platinum (Pt), palladium (Pd), iridium (Ir), osmium (Os), rhodium (Rh) and ruthenium (Ru). Of these,only platinum, palladium and, to a much smaller extent, rhodium are commercially significant.
About 75% of the platinum comes from the Bushveld Igneous Complex (BIC) in South Africa. An enormous body of rock that cooled from a molten intrusion 2billion years ago; a unique occurrence (so far…). The extraordinary continuity and grade of mineralised layers, makes the 'BIC', the world's largest primary platinum production area.
Mineralised layers are named the Merensky reef, discovered in 1924 by Mr Hans Merensky and Andries Lombaard.; and the underlying UG2 reef, which includes more Chromium. The Merensky and UG2 reefs are narrow (less than a metre thick). Today about 20% of PGM comes from the Merensky reef and 65% from the UG2 reef, which has a significant impact on grades and quality of the ore.
The Platreef (North part of the BIC) represents a real opportunity to develop new mechanized mines because the Platreef ore is trapped in a much wider zone (varying between 5 and 90 metres) with a relative enrichment in paladium and in gold compared to the western and eastern BIC ores.
The demand profil has completly changed over the past five years. Europe and Japan have given up their leader place to China and the rest of the World ( including emerging countries: Brazil, India, Russia). China has recently became the first player for demand. The autocatalyst industry requires the biggest amount of platinum with more than 3Moz. About 75% of platinum supply comes from South Africa, which carries some geostrategic risk. .
In Autocatalyst from platinum to palladium based on technological advances. The Platinum per car could remain relatively flat as increased emission standards offset palladium substitution.
Platinum is a rare metal, occurring at a concentration of only 0.005 ppm in Earth's crust. The main geological source of Platinum is located in the 'Bushveld' in South Africa.